Robert McGee Surveys Mormons on the Ethics of Tax Evasion

Robert McGee’s released another paper in his long series of cross-cultural surveys about the ethics of tax evasion. This paper — Ethics, Tax Evasion and Religion: A Survey of Opinion of Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — gives the result of the survey given “to 638 students at a large college in the western United States, 562 of which were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

He found that this group was more strongly disapproving of tax evasion than most other groups he’s surveyed, even when presented with extreme situations. For instance, survey takers were asked to rank the following statement on a scale from 1 (strongly approve) to 7 (strongly disapprove): “Tax evasion would be ethical if I were a Jew living in Nazi Germany in 1940.” The average score was 5.144, meaning that they believed German Jews had an obligation to fund their own extermination.

Part of the reason for this may be that the Mormon church has a much blunter, less nuanced teaching about tax evasion than do most Christian churches — that tax evasion is wrong, no matter what.

I’ve discussed McGee’s work on previous Picket Line entries, for instance: